D08CA-050 (Morris Animal Foundation): Tyrosine Kinases in Canine Hemangiosarcoma

Stuart C. Helfand, DVM

Results: Researchers Identify Potential New Therapy to Help Combat Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs
Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) remains one of the deadliest canine cancers, and dogs rarely live more than six months after diagnosis. New approaches are needed to improve the survival time of dogs that develop this devastating disease. Researchers from Oregon State University expanded on prior Morris Animal Foundation–funded research to further investigate a novel class of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors, which have the potential to control the growth of HSA cells. Tyrosine kinases are enzymes that function as cell-signaling messengers, and their increased activity is associated with uncontrolled HSA cell growth.

Researchers found that inhibiting certain tyrosine kinases effectively suppressed the growth of cancer cells. Additionally, when tyrosine kinase inhibitors were combined with standard-of-care HSA chemotherapeutic agents, the resulting combination was significantly better at killing cancer cells. To this end, researchers have begun to apply their findings and are treating several dogs with HSA with dasatinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor identified as effective through this Morris Animal Foundation–funded study.

Although it is too early to determine whether dasatinib is making a difference, the researchers hope to validate it as a therapy for dogs with HSA. HSA is a well-recognized problem in several dog breeds, including German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Boxers, English Setters, Pointers, Portuguese Water Dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Flat-coated Retrievers and Skye Terriers.